Don’t look now but everywhere you turn, a magazine or newspaper is offering a list of some kind.  Parade magazine (the supplement that comes with my newspaper) offered a list of  PICKS – 13 things  for us to look forward to in 2013. Only two of the 13 things impressed me, personally – #2 is Maeve Binchy’s final novel, titled “A Week in Winter”. I have read all of Binchy’s books so I’m sure I will buy this one.   And a Johnny Cash Museum opening in Nashville is something to anticipate, I think.  My youngest son and I are big Johnny Cash fans. I was thrilled when this son became a fan—it was something I could share with him. I am not impressed with the rest of the list which includes a Revamped American Idol (I don’t watch this program) and Stephen King’s JOYLAND – I don’t read Stephen King. One aside – I DID read some of King’s earliest books and loved them. Then he became “too far out” for my taste.

From Travel & Leisure comes a list of “13 for 2013” – the places to go this year, which includes Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Gold Coast, Australia, Charlevoix, Quebec – and not to be outdone, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I am more impressed with Bon Appetit’s list of TOP 25 FOOD TRENDS although now I am forced to confess, I am not sure exactly what the top 25 food trends are meant to be.  I’m guessing it’s the article titled STARTERS, the BA 25/what to eat, drink and cook in 2013.  Number 5 features the Good & Evil chocolate bar that costs $18 so I guess some of us (me, anyway) will be sticking to Hershey’s cocoa or the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate bars. Number 15 on the list is Fresh Horseradish which I probably won’t buy anymore; it was something Bob loved and before he got sick, we bought fresh horseradish, converted it into little jars of horseradish sauce and I still have some in the freezer!  Number 16 is a new gadget so you can mill your own flour. That, and the rest of the 25 didn’t impress me much—but overall, this issue of Bon Appétit for January 2013, is worth the purchase if you aren’t a subscriber because it’s the Cooking School Issue and is packed with information from making roasts to salads to sauces and sweets.  It also contains a meat lover’s guide to vegetables.  A must issue for serious chefs and wannabes everywhere.

That said, you might want to check out the FOOD & WINE issue for January, 2013 – it contains Best Recipes & Food Trends for 2013 which includes America’s most exciting new restaurants and their top recipes. The cover features Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken & two sauces—and out of all the recipes featured, I think this is the one I am most likely to prepare.

From Family Circle magazine for the new year is a list of 35 Ways to be Healthier but the Slow Cooker Suppers may be at the top of my list—while Conde Nast Traveler offers Gold List, World’s Best Places to Stay and features 510 (yes, five hundred and ten) top hotels, resorts and cruise ships. REDBOOK offers 23 Speedy Ways to get Organized while HOUSE BEAUTIFUL features 101 Kitchen & Bath Ideas.

Following is the Cooking.com list of its top choices for favorite recipes:

1 potato and cheddar cheese soup

2 sweet potato casserole

3 chocolate cream cheese brownies










My fav choice from this list was the Orange-Soaked Bundt Cake – but I do love orange in any recipe. You need to go to Cooking.com to get the recipe, though.

I turned my mind to favorite cookbooks – specifically lists of favorite cookbooks and the first to pop up on Google.com is a list from Epicurious.

This is what Epicurious had to say:

“First on the list is (quite naturally) THE EPICURIOUS COOKBOOK: MORE THAN 250 OF OUR BEST LOVED FOUR-FORK RECIPES FOR WEEKNIGHTS, WEEKENDS AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS By Tanya Stelle and the Editors of Epicurous  (clarkson Potter, publishers)

Second on their list is BOUCHON BAKERY BY Thomas Keller and  Sébastien Rouxel (Artisan)  Third is HOMEMADE PANTRY by Alana Cjernila (Clarkson Potter, publishing) which features 101 foods you can stop buying and start making yourself –such as vanilla extract. I have been making my own for a long time but  the book looks like something I will want to add to my collection.

#4 on the #Epicurious list is a book titled ROOTS: THE DEFINITIVE COMPENDIUM WITH MORE THAN 225 RECIPES, by Diane Morgan.

#5 on their list is a book titled, simply, SALADS by Mindy Fox (Kyle Books, publisher) while

# 6 is SEAMUS MULLEN’S HERO FOOD by Chef Seamus Mullen (Andrew McMeel, publisher) followed by

#7 SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS, by Adam Roberts (Artisan, publisher) and   #8  is SOUVENIRS by Hubert Keller, and is a food memoir published also by Andrew McMeel.

#9 is VIETNAMESE HOME COOKING by Charles Phan – and last but not least is

#10 VINTAGE CAKES by Julie Richardson (Ten Speed  Press) (note to self: write something about the vintage cookbooks in my collection).

You  can obtain more detailed information on all of these cookbooks by going to www.epicurious.com  and there is a list of top ten for 2011 as well. I am going to be totally  honest with you – I guess it’s my meat-and-potatoes-midwestern mentality, but out of all these books the ones I am most likely to check out when I go back to Barnes & Noble is  Vintage Cakes even though I have a very old cookbook of vintage cake recipes. I like the idea of Souvenirs, but I do enjoy food memoirs and have a fairly respectable collection of these books. I am very likely to buy HOMEMADE PANTRY if it lives up to my expectations.


I would like to give a special salute to the following cookbooks – some may not be your favorites and some may be books you haven’t even heard of. But a request I  received the other day for a particular recipe from a Meta Given cookbook, (thanks to Mary Jane for requesting it), made me stop and think about the cookbooks I turn to most often when someone  (including myself) is searching for a particular cookbook.

So #1 on my list today for best ten reference cookbooks is META GIVEN’S cookbook.  When I was a teenager, a copy of Meta Given’s “The Modern Family Cookbook” appeared in our family bookcase (a little cherry wood bookcase with glass doors, that my younger sister now has). I think it was a book club offering but that baffles me as neither of my parents ever joined a book club. I have a vague memory of my mother refusing to pay for it and so it languished on the family bookshelves until I began to read it and eventually claimed for my own. And, to add to the mystery, there is no indication on the inside pages of the cookbook that it was ever a book club selection.  The original copyright was 1942. This edition was copyrighted by Meta Given in 1953, which sounds about right to me.

Not surprisingly, the pages most stained are those with cookie recipes on them- rocks and hermits, gum drop cookies, something called cocoa Indians, lemon drop cookies and molasses drop. My mother turned me loose in the kitchen when I was 9 or 10 years old and most of the time, I baked cookies.

I now own a copy of the original 1942 “Modern Family Cookbook” which is somewhat thicker and heavier than the 1953 edition. But in 1947, Meta compiled “Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking which is in two volumes. I had to laugh at myself; I thought I only had a copy of Volume I, but when I began going through some of my old cookbooks in our new built garage library, I found a copy of Volume II. So, it’s “Meta’s Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking that I am elevating to first place”. You name it and chances are, you will find it in one of these two volumes.

#2 in my list of favorites is “Ida Bailey Allen’s Service Cookbooks, volume 1 and 2”.   The cookbook I grew up on, and learned to cook from, was – as I have written before in Sandychatter—an Ida Bailey Allen Service cookbook that I believe my mother bought for a dollar at Woolworth’s. (I now have that very cookbook, the Service Cookbook, which is certainly battered, tattered and stained. Years later I searched for, and found, more pristine copies).  When someone requests a long forgotten recipe, I have often found it in one of Allen’s cookbooks. She was a famous radio recipe personality back in the day and I wrote extensively about her in my article “I LOVE YOU IDA BAILEY ALLEN, WHEREEVER YOU ARE”. It had this title because this is another one of those instances where I have been unable to learn what happened to the cookbook author when she disappeared from public view. Ditto Meta Given! I am still trying to discover where Given went when she retired!

#3 on my list of favorites “AMERICA COOKS” by the Browns, – Cora, Rose and Bob Brown. Published in 1940 by Halcyon House, “America Cooks” presents favorite recipes from 48 states (Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states in 1940).  I’ve read “America Cooks” many times—and it was “the” book that led to my quest to find other cookbooks like it; cookbooks with America in the title, regional cookbooks that were still regional before the USA became so homogenized. Now I have an entire bookcase with cookbooks bearing the name “America” in their titles but I still love “America Cooks” the best. Thanks to my penpal Betsy, who introduced me to The Browns’ cookbooks, I began collecting all of their titles. All of their books are truly the kind of cookbook you can sit down and … read like a novel. And much to my surprise and delight, earlier this year—or maybe it was the year before—a descendant of the Browns discovered by Blog and wrote to me.  And thanks to one of them, I managed to find a copy of the Browns’ Vegetable Cookbook, the only one out of the series that I was missing. For me, exchanging messages with someone from this Brown family was sort of like Paul Harvey’s famous last line “now you know the rest of the story.” I heartily recommend ANY of the Browns’ cookbooks as great additions to your cookbook collection.

#4 on my list of top ten for 2013 is another one for which my Sandychatter subscribers write requesting a recipe. The title is “THE MYSTERY CHEF’S OWN COOKBOOK”.  The Mystery Chef was a man named John MacPherson who hosted a Philadelphia cooking program “The Mystery Chef” on NBC in 1949. It was one of NBCs first daytime programs and the show ran on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from March 1st through June 29.

MacPherson was a former chemical engineer who arrived in the USA from London in 1906.  He started on radio in the 1930s when he took over a program for a friend and soon began to share his love of cooking with his listening audience. His “Mystery Chef” radio program   ran from 1932 to 1945 – a period of time in which radio recipe programs were in their heyday. (What baffles me is that I never came across the Mystery Chef when I was writing about radio recipe programs…first for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, and more recently, on my Blog. Please see “When Radio was King” a post I entered on my blog on June 21, 2009). Radio recipe programs were enormously popular almost from the inception of radio and continued for decades. NOW you have television recipe programs, a forum that started very simply and has grown until we have the Food Network and dozens of television chef celebrities!)

MacPherson’s programs featured recipes for a limited budget, which makes perfectly good sense considering that in the 1930s the USA was in the throes of a Great Depression. He was very popular with thousands of people who requested copies of his no-fuss recipes. In 1934 MacPherson copyrighted his recipe book which was published in 1936 under the title “The Mystery Chef’s Own Cook Book” by Longmans, Green and Co.  And why he had the name of the Mystery Chef will most likely make you laugh, as it did me.  MacPherson writes, in his cookbook, that having a job as a radio cooking show was considered beneath him, by his family, particularly his mother. So he didn’t use his own name, and became famous simply as “the Mystery Chef”.  Every so often someone who remembers the Mystery Chef radio program or had a Mystery Chef cookbook, will write requesting a favorite recipe. So, The Mystery Chef has spot number 4 on my list.

#5 on my list is cookbook author Jean Anderson’s “AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK”, the most popular recipes of the 20th century and although Anderson has written numerous cookbooks, American Century Cookbook is my favorite reference book. (I wrote about Jean Anderson in January of 2011 and you can find a bibliography in that blog post).

#6 of my favorite cookbook authors is Myra Waldo, another prolific cookbook author who compiled dozens of books, most out of print and some only to be found in tattered condition.  I wrote about Myra Waldo originally for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange quite some time ago; I updated and wrote about her again in 2011 on my blog.  My favorite cookbook—and there are dozens from which to choose—is “COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH” published in 1965.  The author and her husband traveled throughout Europe—Robert Schwartz never seems to be addressed by name, he was always referred to as “My husband”—and each chapter is introduced with a delightful short story of where they traveled and what they saw, and how they happened to discover this dish or that. I was so intrigued with the short stories that I leafed through the entire book and read them all first, before the recipes.

Like Ida Bailey Allen and Meta Given, Myra Waldo disappeared from the public eye—I’m not sure when—and for years (prior to the Internet), I was unable to find any trace of her. It broke my heart when I finally discovered, recently, while updating my information on her – she retired in Beverly Hills, California, and passed away just a few years ago. What I wouldn’t have given to talk to her!  (Please refer to my blog post “Where’s Waldo”, from January, 2011, for a bibliography of her cookbooks—and be forewarned! There are a lot of them!  Sometimes putting together a bibliography is as challenging as writing the article itself.

#7 which a lot of American cooks might think should have been #1 (but I have spent my entire life marching to the beat of an off-beat kitchen drummer) would have to be JOY OF COOKING. The Joy of Cooking is one of the United States’ most-published cookbooks, having been in print continuously since 1936 and with more than 18 million copies sold. It was privately published in 1931 by Irma Rombauer, a homemaker in St. Louis, Missouri, who was struggling emotionally and financially after her husband’s suicide the previous year. Rombauer had 3,000 copies printed by A.C. Clayton, a company which had printed labels for fancy St. Louis shoe companies and for Listerine, but never a book. In 1936, the book was picked up by a commercial printing house, the Bobbs-Merrill Company. Joy is the backbone of many home cooks’ libraries and is commonly found in commercial kitchens as well.

The book was illustrated by Rombauer’s daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, who directed the art department at John Burroughs School.. Working on weekends during the winter of 1930-31, Marion designed the cover, which depicted St Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, slaying a dragon. She also produced silhouette cutouts to illustrate chapter headings. Much slimmer and more conversational than later editions, the original Depression-era edition included sections on canning, pickling, and instructions on how to use meats such as squirrel, possum and raccoon—all recipes that can be found in Meta Given’s cookbooks. Well-worn copies of the book from the library of Julia Child are on display at the National Museum of American History.

In 1962, a revised edition of Joy was published, the first since Irma Rombauer’s death. This edition was released without Marion Becker’s consent. Subsequent releases of the book in 1963 and 1964 were essentially massive corrections, and Becker was known to swap copies of the 1962 edition for later corrected versions.

This edition was published in paperback format (most notably, a two-volume  mass market paperback edition) . It is still widely available in used bookstores. The 1964 edition was also released as a single-volume comb-ring bound paperback mass-market edition starting in November 1973 and continuing into the early 1990s.  The 1975 edition was the last to be edited by Becker, and remains the most popular. More than 1,000 pages long, it became a staple in kitchens throughout the country. Though many of the sections may feel dated to the contemporary American palate, many home chefs still find it a useful reference and it is still widely consulted. The foreword to this edition explains that Becker’s favorite recipes include “Cockaigne” in the name, (e.g., “Fruit Cake Cockaigne”), after the name of her country home in Anderson Township, near Cincinnati, Ohio.  The 1975 edition remained in print, primarily in various inexpensive paperback editions, until the 75th Anniversary edition arrived in 2006.

After the 1975 edition, the project lay unchanged for about 20 years. In the mid-1990s, publishers Simon and Schuster, which owns the Joy copyrights, hired influential cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli (who I have never heard of), formerly of William Morrow, and editor of works by Jeff Smith and others. Guarnaschelli, under the supervision of Rombauer’s grandson Ethan Becker, oversaw the creation of the controversial 1997 edition. The new edition kept the concise style of its predecessors, but dropped the conversational first-person narration. Much of the book was ghostwritten by teams of expert chefs instead of the single dedicated amateur that Irma Rombauer had been when she created the book. The 1997 version is fairly comprehensive, covering a great deal of detail that is not traditionally part of] American cooking; however, it deleted much information about ingredients and frozen desserts.

Originally sold with the title The All-New, All-Purpose Joy of Cooking, it was reissued in February 2008 with the title The 1997 Joy of Cooking after being sold for some time alongside the 2006 edition. In 2006, a 75th Anniversary edition was published, containing 4,500 recipes and returning Rombauer’s original voice to the book. The new version removes some of the professionalism of the 1997 edition and returns many simpler recipes and recipes assisted by ready-made products such as cream of mushroom soup and store-bought wontons. The 2006 edition also reinstates the cocktail section and the frozen desserts section, and restores much of the information that was deleted in the 1997 edition.

The new version includes a new index section called “Joy Classics” that contains 35 recipes from 1931-1975 and a new nutrition section.  So now you know the rest of THIS story (whew!)  I have several old and battered Joy of Cooking cookbooks in my collection as well as a copy of the facsimile edition of the first Joy. At least I think it’s the first. With so many editions, who can tell? (Quick aside – I first started thinking about JOY when I was visiting my brother Jim and his wife Bunny, in Michigan years ago. I think it was for their daughter/my goddaughter’s high school graduation and she is now married and the mother of two little boys. Bunny had the book out to make cream of asparagus soup and it was the most battered tattered cookbook of my acquaintance—held together with rubber bands.  **

Rombauer had no need to write a dozen or two other cookbooks; she made her fortune with just one. But thinking and writing about Irma Rombauer reminded me of another one of my favorite cookbook authors—Marion Cunningham who passed away not long ago. Marion wrote perhaps half a dozen cookbooks but may be most famous for her re-write of the Fannie Farmer cookbook.

So #8 on my list is a toss-up between Marion’s re-write of the famous Fannie Farmer Cookbook and another one that I simply love, Marion’s “LOST RECIPES” published by Alfred A.  Knopf in 2003. I love it for its title and for what it represents – recipes being lost to us, keepers of the flame, collectors of old recipes, old favorites connecting the past with the present.  Marion believed that families were becoming lost and disjointed, families not sitting down together at meal times. I wanted to tell Marion that I cooked meals throughout all the years my children were growing up—we sat down to eat at 6 pm and there were often several droppers-in who knew I made dinner every night and they also knew no one was ever turned away. And for almost all the years Bob and I shared a life together, I made dinner almost every night, until he got too sick to eat. I still cooked for him but a meal might consist of macaroni & cheese when he could no longer enjoy most foods. But it’s a pleasure to me to report that my youngest son and his family, at least, have dinner at the table, together, at 5:30 almost every night. The torch has been passed.  Discover LOST RECIPES for yourself.

And #9 is a companion cookbook, in my mind, to #8. Number 9 is “AMERICA’S BEST LOST RECIPES” published by Cook’s Country Magazine in 2007. I wrote a poem for my poetry group about this collection of Lost Recipes so I will share it with you:

The editors of Cooks Magazine/ published A cookbook that is titled/                  AMERICA’S BEST LOST RECIPES/

121 kitchen-tested heirloom recipes

too good to forget

and it is a beautifully bound book

with hidden wire ring binding

and filled with a some recipes

I have never heard of,

Although there are others

I am familiar with:

Nine Day Slaw,

24-hour Salad,

German Potato Soup,

Beefy Bean and Barley Soup,

Brunswick Stew,


Monkey Bread,

Wacky Cake,

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake,

Lazy Daisy Cake,

Hummingbird Cake,

Orange Kiss Me Cake

Nesselrode Pie,

lackberry Cobbler,

Peanut Blossom Cookies,

Brown Sugar Fudge and

Buttermilk Candy–

But I have to confess –

I never knew any of these recipes

Were lost–

 The people at Cooks Magazine

Had only to give me a call;

I could have told them none

Of the recipes were lost.

I have all of them in my


Especially peanut blossom cookies–

I make those every


For my son Kelly

ho loves them.

Maybe some people just

Didn’t know  where to

look For them.


#10 is a repeat of my 2011 list, “500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES” from Martha Storey and Friends –from Storey Books in Vermont. Why do I like it so much?  Whenever I am searching for a recipe “500 Treasure Country Recipes” is probably the next book I will pluck off my shelves. Occasionally, I’ll be searching for something to include in an article on my blog – or I might be searching for something unusual, like Vinegar Candy – because someone wrote and asked me about it. I love the format of “500 Treasured Country Recipes” and I like that it includes many preserving recipes, whether it’s a canning recipe or drying or freezing the harvest. Published in 2000, it’s still very up-to-date eleven years later. It really is a TREASURE.

You may have noticed, there are a lot of famous cookbook authors whose cookbooks I have left out –that’s because I prefer to focus on the cookbooks I really do use and refer to often. So, what’s YOUR favorite cookbook? And why?  And be glad I only selected ten, not a hundred, of my favorites. Actually…the more I browse through my cookbook shelves, the more I find “favorite’ cookbooks”.

Happy Cooking and Happy New Year!




  1. My most used cookbooks were the FARM JOURNAL COOKBOOKS after the BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. This was before I started collecting cookbooks.

    • Oh, heck, I forgot about those, Betsy–I have a lot (if not all) of the Farm Journal cookbooks and they are all very good. I think my penpal Penny introduced me to those books. My Bad!

  2. This is a remarkable guide that you have made up. I agree with everything you said in your first paragraph, even to liking Stephen King’s earlier books but not so much the later ones.

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